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Becoming a Mother

post-natal-depression

When I got married just after I turned 18, I was sure that I was on-track to having the life I’d planned.

You know the one. Just like the TV ad families with a happy marriage, beautiful kids, a nice house and permanently tanned and fit bodies.

And 15 months later, when a bubbly blonde little girl made us a family of three I expected her arrival to be the next step towards our perfect life.

But I knew something wasn’t right when I sat there holding this darling little human, feeling empty and confused.

And when my milk refused to come, that was when I started to believe that I’d ‘failed’ at being a mum. I had started taking notice of what I considered were my failures. I was a harsh critic.

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lessons-firstborn

I have a soft spot for my firstborn.

I know, I know, it’s not politically correct to say so.

Maybe because she’s the oldest, like I was, growing up.

Maybe because she’s the only girl, or maybe… because I have higher expectations of her. After all, she is older and should ‘know better’, right?

Ouch.

Can you feel any tension in all of this?

Brett and I had no clue what we were doing 9 years ago as first time parents. Believe me when I say I made aaaaall the rookie mistakes, trying to find my own way in parenting.

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mother-didnt-breastfeed

A lot of things failed to go to plan in the weeks surrounding my son Jackson’s entry into the world.

I hoped to go into labour at 41 weeks. Yes, I actually hoped to go past term, purely because we needed that time for our nursery renovation.

I hoped for a birth story like all my friends’: the requisite number of hours of labour, an epidural at just the right moment, and a modest amount of pushing, with little to no tearing, thank you very much.

I hoped to shed a few tears. I hoped for immediate skin-to-skin contact, for a photo of our new family of 3 mere seconds after baby’s first breath of air.

I hoped to breastfeed.

What I got was far beyond what I ever could have predicted.

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mothering-hindsight

In so many ways hindsight is a wonderful thing.  She can help us to re-assess and make changes.  Good adjustments that help us do things better in the future, but from where I sit today, looking at my grown up children, hindsight is not my friend.  She can fill my heart with regret.  I can quickly go down the road of the could’ve, the should’ve, the would’ve but didn’t.  She can make my heart sink and take me to a place where I don’t want to be.

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raising-big-family

Almost 13 years ago, my husband and I sat at the end of our hotel bed, looking over the jungles of Borneo, soaking up the last few moments of what had been the most amazing 10 days. It was the eve of our return home after our honeymoon, and we had been talking about our new lives together and what it all meant. We pondered what the future would bring, the adventures we would go on, the opportunities we would seize. We decided to write a letter to our future selves, to be opened on our 10th wedding anniversary wherever we might be. A time capsule one might say. There were questions about where we planned to travel, if we would move overseas, if we would build or renovate….exploring the million possibilities our new path could give us. Our eyes were wide and our dreams even wider. Coming up to the last question, we were unanimous in our answer.

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motherhood-ready

I wasn’t sure I would ever be ready to be a mum.

I have always loved the idea of having children. I grew up with a sister and a small group of friends with big families. We went on a ton of vacations, visited extended family interstate often, celebrated every single birthday and, as I got older, family life only became deeper and more tight-knit as we worked through the throes of adulthood together. I knew I wanted to have my own children one day: two, and preferably girls (mainly so I could forcibly pass on all of my beautiful barbie dolls to them).

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becoming-mum-child

Responsible.

Reliable.

Strong.

These were the upgrades I signed up for when I became a mum, or so I imagined.

I like surprises. When we got married I let my husband plan our whole honeymoon and delighted in being whisked away without a clue where we’d end up or what we’d do. I really enjoy the injection of the unexpected into everyday life.

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wish-understood-before-becoming-a-mother

This post originally appeared on Her Happy Heart.

Yes, you heard me right. I am a well-seasoned mother of a handful of months, offering out advice in reminiscent form.

But what inspired me to write this post was the absurd number of friends I know who are about to pop with their first little ones, and because I basically gave birth two minutes ago, I feel like I have a super fresh perspective on that immediate change of lifestyle.

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